Press Watch 14/10/19

There is much to note in the media this morning. Two matters stand out for us. The first is poverty.

Whilst the media and much of Westminster continues to obsess about Brexit. The rest of the country frequently have other things on their minds.

Two-thirds of people believe poverty has worsened under the Tories. The Mirror reports on a survey for the Trussell Trust foodbank network which shows 87% of those quizzed consider hunger to be a problem in the UK.

Some 75% say the gulf between rich and poor has widened - and 70% say the ability to afford the cost of essentials has worsened.

The YouGov study of 12,000 people also outlines how 66% believe poverty has got worse in the last five years. 51% of those surveyed think foodbanks are an embarrassment to this country and 70% agree they should not exist in modern society - with 55% saying the Govt is most responsible for addressing hunger.

And 61% agreed most people living in poverty are mired in the state because of Govt policies or actions.

This important research shows just how out of touch the Govt is with public feeling on this issue. People across the UK want our country to be a place of compassion.

We urge Labour's front bench to continue to highlight these matters. It is clear from the poll that most Britons have noticed what has happened, are horrified by it and want government to do something about it.

The tories, by contrast, believe in the ‘hidden hand’ of the market to produce beneficial effects for the nation. On this and so many other matters, they are at odds with the common sense of the country.

It is wrong always to focus simply on events in our country. Elsewhere on our continent in Spain violence has erupted after Catalan leaders were jailed with extraordinary sentences.

Protesters took to the streets, with many gathering at Barcelona’s El Prat airport after the court acquitted the nine defendants of the charge of violent rebellion but convicted them variously of sedition, misuse of public funds and disobedience.

Several people were injured as police baton-charged protesters in the main international terminal.

Less than five hours after the judges’ verdicts were announced, an international arrest warrant was reissued for the former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who spearheaded the push for independence.

The Guardian reports the Catalan president, Quim Torra, has urged an amnesty for those convicted but said the sentences would not deflect his administration from pressing on with its quest for independence. “Repression will never triumph over dialogue, democracy and self-determination,” he said.

But you cannot imprison an idea. It is unacceptable that elected politicians have been imprisoned in pursuit of a perfectly reasonable course of action where they have the support of a substantial part of the population which they represent. The correct way to defeat your political opponents is by the manufacture of consent amongst the population for another course.

In the debate about Europe in this country, it is often said that the EU is a bastion of democracy, tolerance and solidarity. Shamefully, this is not the case with the repression in Catalonia. The EU leaders remain silent, and consciously so, in the face of a nation state acting in this way.

But the values of democracy must be universal and so our condemnation of Spain must stand alongside a critique of the EU whose leaders have chosen a course which brings shame to our whole continent.

Press Watch is a look at the day's news by Labour MPs.

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